Former employees sue CB&I for severance pay

Kelly Holleran Jun. 5, 2012, 5:26am


Five former CB&I employees allege the Texas Workforce Commission wrongly denied their requests for severance pay to which they claim they are entitled.

John Carnahan, Jan Droptini, Kathleen Fore, Glenda Lindow and Charlotte Zoch filed a lawsuit May 24 in Jefferson County District Court against Texas Workforce Commission and CB&I.

The plaintiffs claim their employer, CB&I, a petrochemical industry construction company, failed to provide them with severance pay despite a policy in the employee policy manual that provides for such.

"Red Book Standard 153-12 provided for one week pay for every year of service and pro-rate portion of one week's salary for fractional parts of a year," the suit states. "The policy had never been revoked or amended in accordance with the provisions of the contract governing how policies are to be revoked or amended."

At the time the plaintiffs lost their jobs, therefore, they say they should have received severance pay.

When CB&I failed to provide the required compensation, the plaintiffs appealed to the Texas Workforce Commission, the complaint says. However, the commission ruled in CB&I's favor, saying it was not forced to pay the severance money because the plaintiffs did not sign a release.

The plaintiffs contend they are entitled to the money. Carhahan says he is owed $57,200; Droptini says she should receive $16,002.40; Fore claims she is owed $47,500; Lindow says she should receive $4,045; and Zoch says she should be paid $4,100.

In their complaint, the plaintiffs allege breach of contract and fraud against the defendants.

In addition to a judgment from the Texas Workforce Commission in their favor, the plaintiffs seek their severance pay, attorney's fees, costs and other relief the court deems just.

Jill S. Chatelain of McPherson, Hughes, Bradley, Wimberley, Steele and Chatelain in Port Arthur will be representing them.

Judge Bob Wortham, 58th District Court, has been assigned to the case.

Case No. A192-497

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